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  • The Heritage of Russian Verse. Introduced and edited by Dimitri Obolensky

From «The Captains»

На полярных морях и на южных…

In arctic and southern seas, on the ridges of green waves, among reefs of basalt and pearl, the sails of ships rustle.

Swift-winged [ships] are commanded by captains who discover new lands, for whom hurricanes hold no terrors, who have experienced maelstroms and shoals;

whose breasts are saturated not with the dust of mislaid charts, but with the salt of the sea; such a captain plots his daring course with a needle on a tattered map,

and, after climbing on to the shuddering bridge, thinks of the harbour he has left behind, as he slashes flakes of foam off his high jack-boots with his cane;

or, on discovering mutiny on board, whips out a pistol from his belt, so that gold is scattered from his cuffs of pinkish Brabant lace. The sea may rage and surge, and the crests of the waves rise to the heavens, yet not one of these captains trembles before the storm, not one will reef in his sails.

They are surely no cowards, the men who are endowed with such hands and with the keen, confident eye that can suddenly hurl a frigate against enemy feluccas,

strike giant whales with a well-aimed bullet or an iron harpoon, and pick out the protective beams of lighthouses in the star-spangled night.

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